Marriage Missions International

Motivating Your Husband To Be The Spiritual Leader

Many, many women struggle with the fact that their husbands don’t pick up the gauntlet to be the spiritual head of the home as the Bible talks about.

It’s a very frustrating situation for them —one we struggled with for many years. My husband Steve just didn’t rise to the position of being a strong spiritual leader in our family. It was a continual matter of frustration for me as his wife and something I prayed about a lot.

The Lord led me to keep going under Steve and pushing him up … going under him and pushing him up … going under him and pushing him up. I was strong spiritually, but I knew the Lord wanted my husband to grow stronger; he just needed encouragement and help in our earlier years of being Christians, to get to that place.

Eventually, he became more confident in praying with us and for us and in time began sharing the Word with us as he grew in strength spiritually. He is now a very strong leader and I thank God for this.

It doesn’t always happen this way, as you may have seen or experienced yourself. But as you listen to God’s promptings and are obedient to His leading, and are patient, it CAN happen! With God, all things are possible!

We’d like to provide links to articles written on this subject, featured on several web sites. We hope that they might be inspiring and helpful as it will give you another way of looking at the situation.

To read these articles, click onto the links provided below.

HOW CAN I MOTIVATE MY HUSBAND TO BE A SPIRITUAL LEADER?

RELUCTANT LEADER

A WORK IN PROGRESS

A HUSBAND’S SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

WHEN IT APPEARS YOUR HUSBAND WON’T LEAD

KNOWING WHEN TO BACK OFF SO YOUR HUSBAND CAN LEAD

OUR FAMILY NEEDED A SPIRITUAL LEADER

And here’s one more article I recently found written by Sheila Wray Gregoire, that brings out some good points. It points out that this is a much more complex situation than many of us realize. I believe Sheila makes some good points that women need to consider on this issue. Please prayerfully read:

READER QUESTION: When Your Husband Is Not a Spiritual Leader

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, or you want to share requests for prayer and/or ask others for advice, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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19 Responses to “Motivating Your Husband To Be The Spiritual Leader”
  1. aj says:

    (USA) Thanks for these articles. I would like an example of "going under him" but I appreciate the topic. I will pray about it more.

    • Cindy Wright from United States says:

      “Going under him” means that I looked for opportunities to lift him up by building his confidence up that he could do the task before him. I encouraged him beforehand and complimented him afterward, letting him know that I was his biggest fan, his biggest supporter. Some men (and women) aren’t confident leaders in different areas of life and for different reasons. By encouraging him, letting him know that I believed in him, and supporting him in whatever way possible, his confidence grew.

      I didn’t push, but did what I could to make it easier for him to take chances to fumble in front of me, but that I still believed in him. Eventually, he became more comfortable in taking the lead. And even if he never did, I’m still there for him loving him and cheering on. I can’t imagine that God would expect any less, since I am his “helpmate” and God’s colleague in showing my husband the love and respect that God would want me to give.

  2. Julia says:

    (USA)  This article could not be any more true. We are all imperfect people and we can’t rely on each other for everything. Unfortunately for us wives, we have to rely on hour husbands. Our husbands have to rely on God. It is a pre-determined order of faith within a marriage. If the husband doesn’t have a good relationship with God, how can he lead the family? There will be so much unnecessary stress and tension. My hope is that my husband will turn around and see the light so we can both move on with our lives.

  3. Someone says:

    (USA)  It would be nice for more men to realize how important their role is when it comes to being the spiritual head in the home. The wife leans on her husband, as she is the weaker vessel, the husbands leans on Christ – to make a harmonious union within the home. A home that is built upon the solid rock of Christ, will be able to withstand the wiles of the enemy & will not come stumbling down. If the (spiritual) head is not on straight, then the whole body is out of whack. Wives must fast & pray for their husbands, as they have a very important role within the home. The wife must also convey a quiet & meek spirit, while showing respect to her husband. The couple must first & foremost pray. A family that prays together, stays together.

    • Bonnie says:

      (USA) I’ve recently been through a great spiritual renewing of my faith and my walk with the LORD. I was so lost. But GOD never left my side. He took a horrible decision I made and brought about a new creation in me and over time in my x husband and our daughter.

      I had an affair and it cost me my 19 year marriage. I went through a divorce and then married the man I had the affair with. He comes form a Jehovah’s Witness background. He struggles so much with his faith and how he sees GOD in his life. I try to encourage him daily but it gets hard sometimes. I feel like I’m fighting a battle. I know that GOD has given me the strength and he is equipping me daily with the swords of truth. I know it’s not about what I want but what GOD wants for him.

  4. Aussie Girl says:

    (AUSTRALIA) So what do I do when my husband is not being the spiritual leader of the house? It makes me feel responsible for this role but I know it’s not my role? I work in ministry fulltime and he constantly criticizes church & my role there.
    I feel very unsupported and constantly defending faith & justifying why I have to work for free on weekends & evenings.

    In this case do I still follow his lead as the spiritual leader or my own? I feel like this question is not answered for the wives who’s husbands are not sold out to God therefore not even thinking spiritual.

  5. Jonathan says:

    (USA) There is nothing anywhere in the Bible about men being the spiritual leaders of their families. Husbands and wives are to lead in a relationship of mutuality, submitting to one another under Christ.

    Please stop purporting these false, human-made concepts.

    • Loucinda says:

      (USA) Please read Ephesians 5:22-33. Wives are to submit to their husbands for the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her… to feed and care for the wife just as Christ does the church. Christ is the spiritual leader -and husbands are to be the same. Blessings to you today.

    • Pavrone says:

      (USA) “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the Church and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” Ephesians 5-22.

      The wife was formed of Adam’s rib. She is a piece of him and yes there should be mutual respect and being in agreement. Not the man pounding his chest.

      Love and treat wives the way God says, caring of her needs and watching how she reacts. Best friends, and the two bodies are one flesh. It’s a beautiful thing but here comes the devil with others to get our minds off our spouses, and mid-life crisis’. The devil hates all God loves, marriage, kids, family –seeks to destroy it all. That is all he can do to hurt God and some will let him in. Tragic.

      God speaks in great detail about those that would destory a marriage and it is brutal. Proverbs 7-21, 23-27 and more. The LORD goes on to say husbands are to love us as Christ loves the church which is with adoration and not to club us and make us do whatever they want when they choose. Too mnay religions have been founded on that very premise. We are to be in submission one to another, which means we get along. When both are doing their part, all the issues seem to come together and there are very few problems.

      God does say a man is the leader but in many cases as WAS mine, a women has to do the right thing for her kids. God does say a woman is to manage the home and kids, that is her “job” and a man that does not support his family is worse than an unbeliever. 1 Timothy 5-8.

      You are correct that it isn’t like Islam believes. Women are property and not worthy of anything. But a Godly man should know how to rule his own home and that is all through the Bible. Especially loving his wife. Live by that Golden Rule. It is that simple.

      • Aussie Girl says:

        (AUSTRALIA) See the question is always left unanswered… How can a man be a spiritual leader in the house if he is not living a spiritually led life? So if he is not leading his family to Christ he simply just lives life. Does the wife then fill that role (spiritually lead & pray until he is spiritually led himself)?

        • Daughter says:

          (USA) Perhaps he can’t if he has not accepted Christ as his Lord, even when you have a husband who has accepted the Lord, has much Bible knowledge, goes to church but is running from God a lot because of stuff he’s dealing with… addictions. Soooo, not spiritually leading or able to lead elsewhere right now. I’ve been advised to still be kind, patient, loving, and bearing with him. I can’t change him only myself through Christ… and trust me that’s reeeeeally hard right now.

          I no longer ask my husband if he wants to do a devotional and pray together. But I’ve also communicated nicely that I will wait for him to do so when he is ready I will gladly make myself available to share that experience with him. I am trying to figure this out. My situation is different than yours but I share some similar pains. So, I continue to pray for myself, and my husband and hope in the Lord. Right now I need help with patience and keeping my mouth shut. I’m reeeeally struggling with being a loving supportive wife because my husband is seemingly unable to be an active member of the household. In turn I am becoming depressed. I’ve been praying but stuffing feelings because I don’t want to say anymore… I’ve already put my foot in my mouth. God help me please!

      • Erica says:

        (NEW ZEALAND) I really liked your post, Pavrone, especially as it speaks to the question of what to do if your husband won’t play his part. I agree with your statement that a woman has to the right thing for her kids. God will honour that; He won’t berate you for not knowing your place. Two minor points:

        1 Timothy 5:8 says in Greek, “If anyone does not provide…” The word translated “man” in some translations is actually gender-neutral in Greek. This verse is not laying the burden for financial provision on men; in the context, it’s laying the burden for financial provision on those who are able to provide. In Paul’s culture, that was more likely to be a man (but not exclusively; Tabitha and Lydia spring to mind). In our culture, this verse would apply to anyone with an income. I hope this helps those women who feel guilty about working outside the home.

        1 Timothy 5:14 refers to the wife being the ‘oikosdespotein.’ ‘Oikos’ = household; ‘despotein’ = dictator/ruler. Incidentally, ‘despotes’ is the word translated ‘Lord’ in Jude 4. That’s what God wants for us wives. Quite empowering, wouldn’t you say? ;-) God bless you.

    • Erica says:

      (NEW ZEALAND) Hooray for Jonathan! I’m so pleased that people, especially men, are waking up to this liberating truth. I agree that the ‘spiritual leadership’ doctrine is false and human-made. I believe it’s one of those ‘traditions of men’ that people follow (Mark 7:8), not rightly interpreting what Scripture says on the subject.

      Once you start to interpret Scripture with regard to the cultural context it was written in, the whole ‘roles within marriage’ concept becomes a non-issue. The more you realise God intended husband and wife to be equal, fellow-heirs and on exactly the same footing in every way, the more flabbergasted you become when you re-read certain Scriptures and think, “How on earth did I ever get hierarchy/roles/spiritual leadership (whichever term you prefer to use) out of this?”

      I could type reams on this subject, but I’ll limit myself to the following points. Hopefully, they will lead to some fruitful discussion.

      1. It never states overtly, in any of Paul’s epistles, that ‘head of the wife’ means ‘leader (spiritual or otherwise) over the wife.’ The ‘head’ of I Cor. 11:3 & Eph. 5 has, for centuries, traditionally been INTERPRETED as ‘leader’ (spiritual or otherwise), but is that what the word ‘kephale’ meant to the early church? Paul’s definition of headship is actually given to us in Eph. 4:15-16. Read Eph. 5:22 with this definition in your mind, and it suddenly reads quite differently to the traditional, hierarchical teaching of marriage. The head is meant to be the supporter and nourisher of body, NOT her boss.

      2. In the time Paul wrote, the head was considered to be the seat of the emotions; the heart was considered to be the seat of the will. How does that square with modern church doctrine that men are the ‘natural’ decision-makers? Can you see how vital it is to interpret Scripture with due regard for cultural differences?

      3. When Paul talks about marriage in 1 Cor. 7, he clearly considers husband and wife to be equal… Pre-fall, marriage was an equal partnership -BOTH husband and wife were given the mandate to rule and fill the planet (Gen. 1). Why would Christians want to base their marriage on the consequences of sin (Gen. 3 your husband will rule over you)? Didn’t Christ come to redeem us from the curse?

      4. Romans 14 says we ALL stand (or fall) to our OWN master -not your husband’s master, ladies! If your master is Jesus, you will be no longer be frustrated by your husband’s lack of interest in spiritual things; nor will you be able to blame him for your lack of spiritual growth. You will be able to flourish as described in Psalm 1 -and, more importantly, your children will get the spiritual guidance they need.

      5. Eph. 5:22 is to be interpreted in the light of Eph. 5:21 (v. 22 is NOT a new sentence in Greek; it’s a continuation of 16-21 in Greek, elaborating what a spirit-filled believer’s life should be). Marriage between two Christians should be characterised by mutually submitting yourselves one to another, out of reverence for Christ. Eph. 5:32 describes the head/body oneness of marriage as a ‘profound mystery’. Hierarchy, on the other hand, is not a mystery: anyone can understand a ‘chain of command’ set-up!

      6. Submission =giving up what I want because I love the one I’m submitting to; Laying down one’s life =giving up what I want because I love the one I’m laying down my life for. Spot the difference?!

      7. If we are not to be yoked to unbelievers (2 Cor. 6:14) -and if this verse can be applied to marriage -isn’t it odd to think that one ox would be in leadership over the other ox? Isn’t it the one driving the team that’s the leader? Therefore, shouldn’t GOD be the spiritual head of the household?

      God bless y’all. This is a controversial issue… and I understand those on the other side of the debate, by the way. I used to be extremely conservative and patriarchal in my thinking, to the extent that I wondered whether married women really needed to vote or not! So you can see I’ve come rather a long way on this subject.

      • Elga says:

        (BAHAMAS) This is a comment to your first point. Even in the trinity, God is head. The trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And while they are equal, God the Father is still the head. I believe Paul is saying the same thing in Ephesians. Our husbands should take the leading role in our families. Taking the leading role does not make them better, smarter, wiser or more spiritual. Nor does it say that they have to be. But the Bible says they should be the head of the wife.

        If you believe that the Bible is the inspired and written word of God and that every part of it is true then you need to obey His word. The key thing in this chapter is husband and wives BOTH submit. They submit to EACH OTHER and they do it reverencing and respecting God in the process. If like in my case, wives do not feel their husbands are taking the leadership role they should, the best thing to do is to leave it in God’s hands. PLEASE NOTE. I said it is the BEST thing not the EASIEST thing. We have to pray for our husbands to walk into their rightful place but we can’t SHOVE them there. Our trust and hope should be in GOD. We must understand that HE loves us enough to protect us from the seemingly “wrong” or “unadvisable” decisions we believe our husbands make.

        The Bible says they that trust in the Lord will NEVER be made ashamed. Romans 20:10-11; Psalm 25:3. Ladies, could it be that we are putting more trust in our husbands that in God? Psalm 118:8 says “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than in humans.” The bottom line is this, husbands have a responsibility to his wife and by extension their children, and that responsibility encompasses loving them the way Christ loves His church. LOVE protects, provides supports etc… 1 Corinthians 13 Love chapter.

        • Erica from New Zealand says:

          Hi Elga, You stated, “The trinity consists of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. And while they are equal, God the Father is still the head. I believe Paul is saying the same thing in Ephesians. Our husbands should take the leading role in our families.” Can you please show me the verse of Scripture that explicitly defines headship (either in the context of the Trinity, or in the context of marriage) as leadership? This is the issue I have with the “husband as leader” idea. It’s based on an interpretation of what “headship” means. But where’s the verse to back up that interpretation?

          When Paul described the head-body relationship within marriage, he was describing a single organism working together. Eph. 5 tells us that the oneness of marriage, and of Christ and the church, is a MYSTERY. What’s mysterious about a hierarchy, where one is the leader and the other is the follower? Nothing! Hierarchies are easy to understand. On the other hand, an equal union of two mature people –becoming one, with mutual submission, and neither one being predominantly in charge –is highly unusual. (Usually, in a hierarchical situation, the follower ends up not being fully mature, since the buck always stops with the leader. This goes against God’s desire that we all become fully mature as we grow up in Christ.)

  6. Aussie Girl says:

    (AUSTRALIA) I’m confused?… We are told in our church that when it comes to spiritual decisions it is the husband’s role to make them. So you know where I’m coming from. For example I want to tithe to our church but my husband doesn’t so I had a chat with my pastor and he said I have to respect my husband’s decision on that… (meaning I cannot tithe unless my husband allows it). We are both workers earning around the same income so it’s not like I was trying to tithe the money he makes.

    Another example is my involvement in the church is very different from his he thinks I’m too involved and he doesn’t want me involved at all so do I have to respect that too and unplug myself from church?

    You’re debating the subject about spiritual leadership being the ‘husbands role’ right? Is that why no one is answering my question? Are you saying that spiritual leadership is not the husband’s role? It’s just a tradition of men?

    • Erica says:

      (NEW ZEALAND) Hi Aussie Girl, You wrote in an earlier post: “See the question is always left unanswered… How can a man be a spiritual leader in the house if he is not living a spiritually led life? So if he is not leading his family to Christ he simply just lives life. Does the wife then fill that role (spiritually lead & pray until he is spiritually led himself)?”

      Hopefully, I can answer your question, or at least get you started down the right track -although I know there will be plenty of people who think I’m getting you started down the wrong track! Please check everything I say against Scripture, and please don’t listen to people who tell you you’re being rebellious, unsubmitted, or a feminist with a Jezebel spirit, just because you have questions. I say that because I’ve had all those labels thrown at me… sometimes by my own doubts.

      I’d like to address your last paragraph from 11 January first. I’m indeed saying that spiritual leadership is not the husband’s role, and that it is a tradition of men. I strongly encourage you to read an article by Don & Wendy Francisco on the subject. They explain it much better than I do. Here’s the link: http://www.rockymountainministries.org/mythbusters/17-mythbusters/55-myth-32-husbands-are-the-spiritual-leaders-of-wives-myth-32-husbands-are-the-spiritual-leaders-of-wives.html

      If your church teaches that it is the husband’s role to make the spiritual decisions, then I would say your church is teaching something very unscriptural! Romans 8:14 states that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” No child of God gets to be led ‘second-hand;’ we must all hear the Lord for ourselves.(If your Bible says, “sons” instead of “children” in this verse, it’s no biggie, because as Galatians 3:28 points out, in Christ there is neither male nor female -we are all one in Christ Jesus.)

      In Acts 5, Ananias made a ‘spiritual decision’ that Sapphira went along with… the result was that God took her life just as He had taken her husband’s. She couldn’t defend herself by saying, “But I was only submitting to my husband, because he’s my spiritual head.” There is ONE mediator between God and man (=’mankind’), and that is Christ Jesus. Wives don’t get to hide behind a second mediator in the form of their husbands!

      If your husband is not living a Spirit-led life, then he cannot be any kind of spiritual leader. We can only lead people into places where we ourselves are going. (I’m not saying he isn’t saved, just that he can’t be considered a spiritual leader if he himself is not Spirit-led.)

      Likewise, if you, Aussie Girl, ARE living a Spirit-led life, then you will automatically be a spiritual leader in your house. You can lead your family to Christ, even without your husband’s input, because it’s “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.” (Zechariah 4:6) Also, John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture says, out of them will flow streams of living water.” Remember, too, that Scripture teaches the priesthood of ALL believers, not just the male ones. Priests were the intermediaries between the people and God. All Christians now have the privilege of being priests in Christ, who is Himself the great High Priest. I Peter 2:9.

      It is wonderful when fathers and mothers lead their family to Christ together; but there’s plenty of Scriptural support for mothers doing it alone, hand-in-hand with the Lord (Timothy’s mother is one example). Was the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20 only given to the 11 disciples, or was it given to all believers everywhere? he way I see it, your family is your primary ‘mission field,’ and you are to make disciples of them, baptizing them and teaching them as per Jesus’ instructions. When the spiritual welfare of your family is at stake, whether you’re the mum or the dad is beside the point.

      Now about the issues of whether or not to tithe, and whether or not you should lessen your involvement in your fellowship because of your husband: firstly, the good news is that God doesn’t need anyone’s help to build His church, so even if you and your husband can never come to an agreement, God’s work won’t be stopped if you don’t tithe and aren’t as involved as you’d like to be.

      For the sake of your husband, it may be wiser to give ground (in the short term) on those issues that are clearly a threat to him. I think Romans 12:18 applies here: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

      It would also be very useful for you to find out, if you haven’t already done so, the reasons why your husband thinks the way he does. Does he perhaps fear that you are outshining him, so that he wants to clamp down on you? Does he feel that you love your fellow-Christians more than you love him? Many spouses hold each other back because of jealousy or insecurity. Love, of course, doesn’t behave like this, but not all Christians are mature enough to let their spouse be free. In the meantime, the Lord can help you to love your husband enough to bear with his shortcomings (see 1 Cor. 13).

      Is this the same as ‘traditional’ submission, i.e. do what your husband says because he’s in charge? No, because your underlying motivation is entirely different, and is freely given, rather than coming from compulsion. The definition of submission that I would consider to be the most Scriptural comes from Dr Katharine Bushnell (check out her work at the http://www.godswordtowomen.org website): it is “the Christian grace of yielding one’s preferences to another, where principle is not involved, rather than asserting one’s rights.” So, unless your husband is asking you to do something that violates your conscience (not your preferences, but your convictions), then I think it is entirely appropriate for you to submit to him.

      It’s heading towards 2 a.m. here, so I’m going to hit the hay. Just one more thing before I shut down (mentally and electronically!): for the record, I’m happily married. So is my husband, and although he has taken longer than I have to come to grips with the whole ‘headship’ question -centuries of church tradition are not easily overcome! -he would now agree with everything I’ve just commented.

      Aussie Girl, I hope I’ve been of some help. I’ve been chewing over this issue for around 18 years now, ever since a male friend of mine said, “Why would God give a woman the gift of teaching and then expect her to shut up?” If you want to talk about this subject a bit more with me, I’d be happy to share my thoughts. If I’ve been a bit glib with some of my statements, especially regarding your personal situation with your husband, then I sincerely apologize. Regards, Erica

    • Daughter says:

      (USA) I agree with Erica on the point that you cannot ride on the coattails of anyone to get into heaven. It is only by the blood, grace of Christ and our “personal” acceptance of him as our Lord and Savior. We are absolutely “personally” responsible for our own relationship with Christ. No one else is responsible for that relationship. It is the role of the husband to be the head of the “marriage” as Christ was of the church.

      Keep in mind Christ’s character when I say that. Study out Christ’s character, he was not prideful. He was loving… he wanted to please his Father in heaven… hence part of that was loving “the bride” the church. Hence God wants our husbands to love him and Christ his son as Christ taught …and he will love his wife and lead by example as Christ did. As our relationship with Christ grows our desires to please him including tithing will change. I still believe we should be respectful to our husbands BUT… in saying that, respecting our husband comes down to more of our attitudes towards them. Keep praying for your husband and do what you know is right in the Lord. He will bless you for your obedience to the word of God. You seem like a wonderful person. God Bless!

  7. Aussie Girl says:

    (AUSTRALIA) Thank you Eric your post has helped answer a lot of my questions :)

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